Do you ever feel that your teen is from another planet? They speak a language you don’t know. They have interests that you’ve never heard of and just don’t understand. It’s a common phenomenon. Teenagers are weird.
That being said, they’re your teenagers and there are steps you can take to get closer to them, to better understand them.
#1 Ask Questions and Listen
The first step to understanding your teen is to ask questions. Now there’s a strategy here. Many teens give yes/no answers when you ask them a question. The trick is to do it when they’re more likely to open up. Driving in the car seems to be a good time, assuming they don’t have their iPod blasting music in their little ears.
When you ask questions, make sure to listen to the answers – even if you don’t understand half of the words they’re using. It’s okay to ask for clarification. As you’re listening, take mental notes. They’ll come in handy in the next step.
#2 Google It!
If you have no idea what your child is talking about, Google it. Google the things they express interest in, the people, and even the language they use. The Urban Dictionary can be incredibly useful. For example, “Feels” – A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. “Watching Back to the Future gives me all sorts of nostalgic feels.”
Seriously, one of the best ways to better understand your teen is to listen in on their conversations. True, most of their conversations are via text message so listening in on those conversations is impossible. However, you can snag their cell phone from time to time and scan through the text messages.
If that feels too invasive, try to be around them when they’re with their friends. Attend events with them. Volunteer to drive them and their friends to events. And encourage them to invite their friends over.
#4 Get Involved
Start taking an active interest in your teen’s interests. For example, if they’re involved in the local drama club then volunteer to help out with the club. If they are active online and have their own YouTube channel, then by all means watch that channel but also watch the other YouTubers that your child follows.
Each generation has their own trends, language, and interests. Guaranteed, when you were a teenager your parents thought you were from another planet as well. It’s the way of the world. It’s okay to not be able to completely relate with your teenager. In fact, it’s normal.
Do what you can to connect with them. Let them know that you’re interested in their lives and then relax. You don’t need to be a friend with your teenager, nor do you need to share the same interests. It’s enough to let them know that you care.